Over at our place, we play a particular drinkin’ game by reading a Wisconsin State Journal editorial. Sometimes it goes nowhere. But other times, the editorial board will sort of criticize their beloved Republicans, and then the game is on. Will there be a matching swipe at Democrats? Are ya kidding? As soon as we find the matching swipe (and we will, it’s never not there) it’s time for everyone to shout, “Booyah Casserole!” and down a shot of Jameson.
Here’s an example. It’s actually a mostly good editorial — Partisan maps share blame for shutdown. True enough. Gerrymandered voting districts really do help to explain why the GOP has gotten increasingly out of touch with the broad range of voters.
But then the editorialists can’t help themselves. In order to “balance” a criticism of their beloved GOP, they need an equal-and-also jab at Democrats, or in this case, “progressives”:
Fixing the process in Wisconsin won’t magically tame the tea party in Washington or turn progressives into pragmatists.
Bingo, there it is. Everybody take a drink.
Of course, in reality, we have no idea what makes progressives un-pragmatic. Who are they talking about? What are they talking about? They don’t explain. It’s just a quick insult, which always needs to be done. For faux balance? Is it an obsessive-compulsive symptom? Dunno, but it’s the reliable basis of the WSJ Editorial Drinking Game!
We should leave it at that, but we’ve got a couple of minutes to burn, so let’s get serious. The State Journal’s idea that progressives need to be more “pragmatic” has, let’s say, no particular basis. If they can defend the idea, we’d love to hear it. Thus far we believe it to be just an insult without basis.
Consider the debate over what everyone now calls “Obamacare.” Obamacare is not what most progressives wanted. They would surely have preferred a single-payer insurance plan, like the well-regarded systems in other western democracies –. Universal coverage? Lower costs? Better outcomes? — that would’ve been the progressive dream proposal.
But progressives were assured that single-payer could only be a pipe dream in the current American context. In order to get the existing private health insurers on board, the private health insurance industry would need to endure and be incentivized with more citizen/customers able to buy their private insurance. And practically speaking, that was probably true. Yes, the new plan would be pretty complicated, and it wouldn’t succeed in getting everyone covered, but it would be a good step forward, progressives were told. And progressives said OK. They supported the complicated compromise.
It was pure pragmatism. Now, compare that if you like to what’s going on in the Republican/Tea Party.
What this shows is that the drinking game requires no actual facts or actual journalism. It simply requires the WSJ editorial board to do what it obsessively does. They apparently cannot help themselves. As we said, this was an example of a basically good editorial. It didn’t need the ritual insulting of the enemies. The editorial didn’t become stronger through the ritual insulting. The 3 members of the editorial board didn’t secure absolution through the ritual. It’s just something, seemingly rooted in the 3 men’s psychologies, that they need to do.